Barka da sallah: Felicitation, food or money? - GulfToday

Barka da sallah: Felicitation, food or money?


Fireworks lit up the night sky on the occasion of Eid in Dubai’s Al Seef area on Tuesday. Kamal Kassim/Gulf Today

Saratu Abubakar, Staff Reporter

“Barka da sallah,” is most likely the phrase that woke you up today if you are in a Northern Nigerian household. It is the slogan of Eid. However, it does not always mean the same thing to everyone. What it means to a 40-year-old man who has a family is different from how a 5-year-old translates it.

Linguistically it carries the same weight in translation as “Eid Mubarak.” Personally it has different meanings. For some people it is just an Eid greeting that will be exchanged between them and their loved ones, for others it is the Eid gift they will be receiving, while for some it is the Eid food they will be eating.  

As a form of felicitation Barka da sallah will be replacing all forms of greetings today. It is a special greeting that is part of Eid rituals. Today being Eid it is shared amongst family, friends and everyone one comes in contact with. The beauty of it is that it is not restricted to just fellow Muslims. Expect Barka da sallah greeting from fellow country people, irrespective of their religion. A group of people that are enthusiastic about it as a form of greeting are the elderly. 

Sadiya Alfa, a mother of four, said, “Getting to speak, receive or send across text messages of Barka da sallah to various people is part of what excites me about Eid.” 

One of the things that a lot of people look forward to during Eid is having so much food in abundance. Also being blessed to have a lot promotes the spirit of sharing. A major part of today’s agenda will be sharing the Eid delicacies with neighbours. Children in colourful outfits will be filling up the streets after Eid prayers, delivering food in colourful warmers to various houses. That act of sharing is extended to everyone irrespective of their relations with the family or their religious background. Just be rest assured that if you live in a place with a Muslim family, your meal on the day of Eid will be taken care of by them.

For a security guard that works away from his family, Barka da sallah comes in the form of food.  

“My employers are Muslims and there are a lot of Muslim families around me. I am sure that every mention of Barka da sallah from those families comes with a warmer containing food,” he said.

On a typical day, going on errands is not a duty kids enjoy, but today is an exception because it comes with the perks of getting Barka da sallah. For children and teenagers Barka da sallah mostly means the act of receiving a gift, which is mostly in cash form. 

Barka da sallah, which is Eid money in this situation, is very important. As a young Northern Nigerian kid, there is a subtle competition of who gets the highest Barka da sallah. Children and young adults go to homes of relatives and family friends to exchange pleasantries or as said earlier to deliver food.

In the spirit of Eid, the elders give them money as Barka da sallah. The younger you are the more money you get. So, for kids and some young adults Barka da sallah means money and not a greeting or food.

Khadijah Tahir, a 22-year-old, is trying to find a balance between what Barka da sallah means to her.

“As a young adult, I can say Barka da sallah to me is in between exchanging pleasantries and receiving Eid money. A lot of people think I am too old to be given money as Barka da sallah, so just extending their greetings is enough. While some are generous enough to give me money despite being an adult,” she added.

Whether Barka da sallah means food, money or greeting to you, the most important thing is making sure you have a memorable Eid.

On Tuesday, thousands of faithful packed stadiums in Addis Ababa and Mogadishu and there were also mass prayers in the Nigerian capital Abuja and Juba in South Sudan.

In Bangladesh, thousands of people have been scrambling to Dhaka’s ferry terminals and stations, packing trains heading out of the city to return to their hometowns for Eid.

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